Solar Circle would be based on an extremely simple community architecture concept with roots in ancient history and typified today by the ‘circus’ communities of Bath England and the Han culture circular villages of Guang Dong China. Intended to employ some form of masonry construction for its primary structure –from concrete to compressed earth or possibly an artificial earth berm or crater-like excavation– it would define the functional and social bounds of its community through the simple form of a circle, with all functional elements contained by the structural ring forming the circle, a community recreational and garden space in the center, and the exterior partitioned by long radiating walls or fences into private ‘back yard’ areas. Initially a single or two storey structure, rooftop space would be used for solar and wind power systems, as recreational sun-decks, and as a location for greenhouse structures which may also fit into its deployment of waste management systems. Thanks to this simple shape, solar and wind power systems could be optimized for local conditions by trial-and-error repositioning around the ring without much complication. Optionally, the ring community structure could employ arched glazed enclosures over portions of its circumference or the community could employ a single vast central tension roof or dome to provide a climate-controlled or wind-sheltered environment for its central garden space. In this way it could mimic the appearance of the ‘crater dome’ habitats envisioned in the original TMP, though we now anticipate with TMP 2.0 that a subterranean version of this form is more likely.
The space of the ring structure would be divided into simple generic loft ‘cells’ with windows-wall enclosures on either end which would be configured for use through retrofit, just like any loft apartment. Though the community would have a ring shape, individual cells would be rectilinear clear-span boxes with the variation in angle one to the other confined to their demising walls. If based on concrete construction, the cells may also be equipped with a formed-in-place socket grid as intended for use on the full-scale Aquarius settlements for the use with modular finishing components such as the TomaTech system. As the settlement increases in size, the cell dimensions may be increased, ultimately expanding to something akin to an arcology-like cell of several storeys in height and several times that in length, which would then use modular parts for interior mezzanines where desired.
The point to using this circular shape is both to define a specific community boundary and also to establish a simple architectural scheme that would remain consistent throughout the later expansion of the community. It grows both in an outward and upward direction, adding more floors and more space to its central garden over time. In this way it could become a kind of proto-arcology, since it embodies the basic principles of space organization for an arcology and at a certain point would be compelled to grow up more than it grows out.
The Solar Circle would be a minimalist design that would easily suit a large variety of environments and require little sophistication in planning for its growth. Every space in the ring can be used for any purpose on demand, so experimental use and incremental refinement of organization present no problem. It’s chief limitation is that, at a small size, it would tend to offer a lower level of personal privacy as the shape and the limited screening offered by a small garden makes people’s coming and going difficult to miss. A two-storey initial design may be preferred for this reason, insuring that the inner bottom floor of the cells can be screened by opaque panels where the inner side of the ring would tend to serve as a common community avenue.
The Solar Circle would also be an ideal form for the initial demonstration of Personal Packet Transit technology because the shape would economically implement conduits for this system cell-to-cell while allowing cells to be easily configured as local SuperStore centers.